There certain things that I do that I know make me feel better the rest of the time. Writing is one of them – when I have a fiction project going and it’s going well, everything in my life just feels better. Exercise is like that, too. And yet, unlike writing, which I often times will do instead of projects I strictly speaking should be working on, getting myself to actually get up off the couch and exercise is a struggle, every single time. And I sometimes find myself just wondering why?
Why is it that something that makes you feel better, that you know will make you feel better, is so hard to actually will yourself to do?
I get frustrated with myself often over stuff like this. My seeming inability to exercise or do the dishes or return phone calls in a remotely timely manner. I make long to-do lists for myself every day, and most days I don’t get to half the items I put down. I break promises I’ve made with myself everyday, and sometimes the reasons are understandable, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes I just couldn’t bring myself to actually do what I’d promised.
A part of me hoped that this tendency would go away once I graduated, not because of some idea of what “real adults” are like, but because I thought that once I had less stress, the daily tasks of life would seem less tiring, more worthwhile. And yet I am beginning to suspect that this tendency in myself is never going away. That I am always going to fail, at least some of the time, to do the things I know I should, that I have promised myself I would.
Socrates once theorized that the fact that people do things they know will have negative consequences, or fail to things they know will have positive rewards, makes no sense at all. I remember reading, for one of my courses as a freshman in college, a dialogue in which he grappled with this question, and I don’t really remember his conclusion, but I do remember finding it inadequate.
Socrates’s problem in approaching this whole issue was assuming human beings were inherently rational. He could not understand how a person would make such an irrational choice, but human beings make irrational choices all the time. It is what makes us human and not machines. We fail to do the things we know we’re supposed to. We wind up doing the things we promised ourselves we wouldn’t. We’re only human.
I’m trying to learn to forgive myself for this little failures. I’m trying to learn to let them go. It’s harder than it sounds. It’s hard to accept that there will always be this tendency in yourself that you will never like.
I went to the gym this morning. I feel really good because of it. I fully intend to go back tomorrow. I have no idea if I actually will.
I’m not exactly happy about that last part, but I’m at least trying to be okay with it. Because otherwise, I’m going to spend my life just making myself miserable over something I can’t change.